The relationship between ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) density and salt marsh shoreline erosion

Project Details


The relationship between ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) density and salt marshshoreline erosion

Joshua Moody

Abstract: Marsh erosion is a major concern for estuaries as increasing storm severity, boat wakes, and sea-level rise threaten shorelines. The ribbed mussel Geukensia demissa is a

prominent component of the Delaware Bay estuarine ecosystem, where it is typically associated with the lower edge of marshlands (Kuenzler, 1961) in close association with the marsh grass Spartina alterniflora. The deposition of nutrient rich feces from these mussels enhances production of S. alterniflora creating levees along the marsh edge (Bertness 1984). As sea level rises, these natural levees and healthy marsh vegetation trap sediments enhancing vertical accretion (Leonard and Luther, 1995; Nepf, 1999). The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that, within certain energy regimes, salt marsh shoreline erosion decreases as mussel

density increases.

To test the hypothesis, mussel demographics, energy regime and annual lateral shoreline movement will be quantified along shorelines of the Delaware Estuary (n = 12 sites). Regression

and Analysis of Variance will be used to identify potential relationships that occur between mussel demographics, relative energy and lateral marsh movement within and among study sites. The aim is to characterize natural assemblages of ribbed mussels that stabilize shorelines under different energy regimes. Results will help determine the potential role of using marsh mussels as a living shoreline fortification to reduce coastal erosion and permit natural accretion of the

marsh surface.

Effective start/end date6/1/105/31/11


  • National Ocean Service: $20,000.00


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